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#1 2017-03-28 13:26:36

Scott Beach
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Registered: 2017-02-21
Posts: 132

The Outer Space Treaty: A Case of Inatful Drafting

The first paragraph of Article I of the Outer Space Treaty reads, “The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind”. 

The phrase “shall be the province of all mankind” has been the subject of analysis and debate.  Does that phrase prohibit the establishment of permanent human settlements on the moon and other celestial bodies?  It is time to take a very close look at “the province of all mankind”.

A “province” is an administrative division of a sovereign state.  For example, the nation of Canada has 10 provinces, one of which is named Alberta.  Someone could therefore refer to Alberta as “the province of Alberta”.  Proceeding on this example, we may ask has any sovereign designated “outer space” as a “province” and then given that province the name “All Mankind”?  The answer to that question is “No”.  We may therefore conclude that the phrase “the province of all mankind” is completely meaningless.  This conclusion is supported by the fact that if the phrase “and shall be the province of all mankind” were deleted from the Outer Space Treaty the meaning of the treaty would not change at all.

The phrase “and shall be the province of all mankind” is best understood as an example of “inartful drafting”.  The person who drafted that part of the treaty did a very poor job of writing a sentence that can be comprehended by the average person.

"inartful drafting": http://www.politico.com/states/new-york … are-023352


"It is possible to build a rational and humane culture completely free from the threat of supernatural restraints."  Arthur C. Clarke, The Songs of Distant Earth

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#2 2017-03-28 13:38:05

Terraformer
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From: Atlantis
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 2,336
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Re: The Outer Space Treaty: A Case of Inatful Drafting

No no, that's... not what the word province means in that case.

Alberta is a province of Canada, and outer space is a province of all humanity.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#3 2017-03-28 13:46:55

Scott Beach
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Registered: 2017-02-21
Posts: 132

Re: The Outer Space Treaty: A Case of Inatful Drafting

Terraformer wrote:

No no, that's... not what the word province means in that case.

Alberta is a province of Canada, and outer space is a province of all humanity.

You sound exactly like a graduate of Harvard Law School.


"It is possible to build a rational and humane culture completely free from the threat of supernatural restraints."  Arthur C. Clarke, The Songs of Distant Earth

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#4 2017-03-28 14:16:46

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 1,906

Re: The Outer Space Treaty: A Case of Inatful Drafting

I think you'll find there are several meanings of province. The one I think that is implied in this case is (from Oxford English Dictionary site):

"An area of special knowledge, interest, or responsibility."

The example given is:

‘she knew little about wine—that had been her father's province’

You can tell this is the case because the Treaty refers to "use" being part of the province.  So it's clear not a territorial issue.


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#5 2017-03-28 14:23:21

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
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Re: The Outer Space Treaty: A Case of Inatful Drafting

Taking out the parenthetical expressions,  the basic sentence reads  “The exploration and use of outer space...shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, ...and shall be the province of all mankind”

I think the last phrase is redundant,  it merely restates (perhaps to reinforce?) the second phrase I quoted.  The meaning seems clear enough:  no Earthly nation can claim any body in space as its own territory.  Presumably,  this would extend to regions of space as well,  not just physical bodies out there.  Anything a nation does out there must benefit all,  not just themselves. 

The phrase I left out "including the moon and other celestial bodies,..." mere provides the specific details.  Those make it clear by the word "including" as it refers to "moon and other bodies",  that regions of empty space are included in the meaning.  That is because "other bodies" extends to any physical celestial body out there anywhere. 

Note that this does not imply anything about sovereignty over,  or salvage rights to, any man-made objects out there in space or on some celestial body.  Establishing what can be done with man made objects needs some law made about it.  Doesn't look to me like the historic sites on the moon or Mars where man-made artifacts were left are protected as the common heritage of all people,  which they probably should be. 

Because it specifically includes the word "use" right alongside "exploration" connected with the preposition "and",  the treaty does not seem to preclude in any way the construction of bases,  and by extension,  even resource extraction activities.  All those are "uses".  Seems clear enough to me.  It just requires you to share some of whatever wealth or knowledge you create by doing it. 

Now that's not law school crap,  it's just basic English grammar and rhetoric from before the time this old engineer became an engineer. English class,  where they make you pick apart and diagram sentences.  Remember?   

GW

Last edited by GW Johnson (2017-03-28 14:31:18)


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#6 2017-03-28 14:36:21

Scott Beach
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Registered: 2017-02-21
Posts: 132

Re: The Outer Space Treaty: A Case of Inatful Drafting

I wonder if “province” is a misspelling of “providence”. 

“Destiny” is a synonym for providence.

     https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dicti … providence

I would agree that the exploration and use of outer space is the destiny of all humankind. 

Should we request that the U.N. Secretary General correct this “misspelling”?

Last edited by Scott Beach (2017-03-28 14:40:54)


"It is possible to build a rational and humane culture completely free from the threat of supernatural restraints."  Arthur C. Clarke, The Songs of Distant Earth

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#7 2017-03-28 16:29:41

Scott Beach
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Registered: 2017-02-21
Posts: 132

Re: The Outer Space Treaty: A Case of Inatful Drafting

I looked at the French version of the Outer Space Treaty.  I found that the French version uses the word “l’apanage”, which can be translated into English as “prerogative”.  “Birthright” is a synonym for prerogative.

     https://books.google.com/books?id=8N4UR … ht&f=false

I could agree that the exploration and use of outer space is the birthright of all humankind.

And see appanage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appanage

"The system of appanage greatly influenced the territorial construction of France and the German states, and explains why many of the former provinces of France had coats of arms which were modified versions of the king's arms".

l’apanage and appanage and birthright are all closely linked to the ownership and control of tracts of land or provinces.

Last edited by Scott Beach (2017-03-28 16:50:55)


"It is possible to build a rational and humane culture completely free from the threat of supernatural restraints."  Arthur C. Clarke, The Songs of Distant Earth

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#8 2017-03-28 16:45:01

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 1,906

Re: The Outer Space Treaty: A Case of Inatful Drafting

Interesting. Well in context I would say that prerogative means there more a "right of exploitation" than a "birthright". But it could be felt perhaps to encompass that. I am not sure why the English text didn't make use of the word prerogative or birthright there. Perhaps "province" was felt to be more felicitous. 

I think the general point is reasonably clear: as a starting principle, no part of humanity should be excluded from exploring or making use of outer space.


Scott Beach wrote:

I looked at the French version of the Outer Space Treaty.  I found that the French version uses the word “l’apanage”, which can be translated into English as “prerogative”.  “Birthright” is a synonym for prerogative.

     https://books.google.com/books?id=8N4UR … ht&f=false

I could agree that the exploration and use of outer space is the birthright of all humankind.


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#9 2017-03-28 16:51:56

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 9,475

Re: The Outer Space Treaty: A Case of Inatful Drafting

Scott Beach wrote:

“The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind”.

"Mankind" is all Species of man with no indication of color or race, national or soverntry....which in some distant future it could include other sub species as well once they can converse with something more than sign language...

"shall be the province" as another indicated is a crude english translation of a french word "the birth right" of those born on earth....which will change to all planetary bodies in the future.....of which it is our destiny to go forth to explore..... As Spock would have said live long and prosper.....

The outer space treaty is not much different in how Antartica is run as no one owns it but all can use it and only what you make or bring has any ownership claim....of which this is also part of all bodies not of earth....

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#10 2017-03-28 16:54:55

Scott Beach
Member
Registered: 2017-02-21
Posts: 132

Re: The Outer Space Treaty: A Case of Inatful Drafting

louis wrote:

Interesting. Well in context I would say that prerogative means there more a "right of exploitation" than a "birthright". But it could be felt perhaps to encompass that. I am not sure why the English text didn't make use of the word prerogative or birthright there. Perhaps "province" was felt to be more felicitous. 

I think the general point is reasonably clear: as a starting principle, no part of humanity should be excluded from exploring or making use of outer space.

Louis: I edited the message that you quoted.  Please note that I added some interesting information and references to that message.


"It is possible to build a rational and humane culture completely free from the threat of supernatural restraints."  Arthur C. Clarke, The Songs of Distant Earth

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#11 2017-03-28 17:09:02

Scott Beach
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Registered: 2017-02-21
Posts: 132

Re: The Outer Space Treaty: A Case of Inatful Drafting

The Outer Space Treaty provides that the exploration and use of outer space shall be the province of all mankind.  Perhaps that provision should be understood as meaning that all people, whether they are born to a royal lineage or to a lineage of lower social status, or born in a developed country or an undeveloped country, have the right to explore and use extraterrestrial resources, including portions of Mars.


"It is possible to build a rational and humane culture completely free from the threat of supernatural restraints."  Arthur C. Clarke, The Songs of Distant Earth

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#12 2017-03-29 04:18:50

Terraformer
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From: Atlantis
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 2,336
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Re: The Outer Space Treaty: A Case of Inatful Drafting

Unless there's another convention that says otherwise, I think we can treat outer space as being under the same laws as the high seas, also called the common heritage of mankind. Since fishing in international waters, or anchoring a boat there, or even constructing an artificial island (legally classed as a ship, though), is allowed (provided you sail under a recognised flag - hence the importance of paying off a small country) on the high seas, it should be allowed in outer space. We already have precedence for the ownership of extraterrestrial materials being the property of those who extracted them as well, from the various sample return missions that have happened, including Apollo.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#13 2017-03-29 06:46:20

Scott Beach
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Registered: 2017-02-21
Posts: 132

Re: The Outer Space Treaty: A Case of Inatful Drafting

Terraformer wrote:

Unless there's another convention that says otherwise, I think we can treat outer space as being under the same laws as the high seas, also called the common heritage of mankind.

Wikipedia contains an article about the "common heritage of mankind".  That article cites the Outer Space Treaty as an example of a legal document that contains this "principle of international law".

     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_he … of_mankind

However, I believe that the Wikipedia article is incorrectly citing the Outer Space Treaty as an example of a document that contains the "common heritage of mankind" doctrine.  Equating that doctrine with "the province of all mankind" is a mistake.


A sentence written in French:

L'illisibilité des textes légaux et réglementaires n'est hélas pas l’apanage des institutions européennes.

English translation:

Unfortunately, incomprehensible legal documents and regulations are not the prerogative of the European institutions.

     http://context2.reverso.net/info.php?q= … gTot=fr-en


“Every person has a right to a certain amount of room in the world and should not be made to feel wicked in standing up for what is due to him”.

     — Bertrand Russell, On Education, page 91
     https://books.google.com/books?id=joCMA … 22&f=false

Last edited by Scott Beach (2017-03-29 18:41:33)


"It is possible to build a rational and humane culture completely free from the threat of supernatural restraints."  Arthur C. Clarke, The Songs of Distant Earth

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